The Poisoned Chalice Murder (Black and Dod Mystery)

Written by Diane Janes
Review by Francesca Pelaccia

It’s 1929, and Fran Black and Tom Dod are asked by Tom’s Aunt Hetty to investigate three suspicious deaths in the sleepy village of Durley Dean in Nottinghamshire. The new vicar of Saint Agnes preaches a severe approach in church, and this has upset and alienated most of the parishioners. But the three people who died took open stands against him. Fran and Tom are amateur sleuths and as they investigate, they only come across more questions and theories but never find any facts to lead them to any conclusive proof of foul play.

Second in a series, The Poisoned Chalice Murder is a fun, old-fashioned whodunit. I felt I was sitting in the same room with Tom and Fran while they went back and forth, discussing their findings, suspicions, and theories, and always being stumped. I guessed along, too, and was surprised to learn who did it. I was also surprised at the relationship between Fran and Tom and their situations. Fran’s husband ran off with another woman, who is now pregnant, and Tom married his deceased brother’s girlfriend to give her unborn child a name and a father. Fran and Tom are in love but up against the demands of their time: being honourable and proper in the face of the dishonourable and the improper.